Adventureland

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Adventureland Movie Poster Image
Fairly thoughtful romcom masquerades as a raunchy indie.
  • R
  • 2009
  • 107 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 24 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie offers a refreshingly non-condescending take on young relationships.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters lie to each other, sometimes out of self-preservation. An alcoholic lets his child take the fall for having liquor stashed in the car. A married man cheats with a young woman who's in love with someone else, though she doesn't confess her liaison to the guy. Workers constantly gossip, and James' childhood friend needles him to the point of bullying.

Violence

Some yelling, arguing, and threats of physical harm. One guy flashes a knife; another tries to beat up a park worker, though his boss scares the guy off with a baseball bat.

Sex

Heavy makeout sessions during which couples begin to undress down to their underwear, though viewers don't see them naked. Virgins are made fun of; some appear to flaunt their sexuality even as they discuss their need to wait. A couple goes swimming in their skivvies. One character appears physically aroused.

Language

Very frequent use of everything from "bitch" and "p---y" to "s--t" and "f--k," including "ass," "hell," "screw," "oh my God," and "goddamn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of pot-smoking among college-aged characters; they also make brownies laced with weed, then act goofy after eating them. Also, lots of drinking -- both beer and hard liquor.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a review of the R-rated comedy that came out in theaters and not the unrated version available on DVD. From the director of Superbad, which stars Twilight's Kristen Stewart, this will definitely appeal to teens. It's not quite as raunchy as Superbad, but there's still plenty of swearing and drug use (mostly pot). You can also expect some drinking, smoking, and sex (more along the lines of heavy makeout sessions than outright nudity). Characters talk about virginity frequently and sometimes mock those who are still virgins.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMovieLover4Lyfe June 1, 2010
I love indie movies, but this one left a bad taste in my mouth. The content on all levels would be inappropriate for all but the oldest teens.
Adult Written bywonder dove November 15, 2013

Fun summer film for older teens!

Advenureland was very enjoyable for an 80's teen-themed comedy. What bothered me most was Kristen Stewart who always seems too uncomfortable - I don't... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bycrushcrush149 February 18, 2010
I absolutely loved this movie. Sure, there's some drugs and sex but it's an indie 80's flick so you gotta expect it and not let your... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byPaigey29 November 12, 2009
I actually thought Adventureland was a very good movie with a happy ending. Im fourteen and my only concerns for the movie was the alchohol consumption of under... Continue reading

What's the story?

With his dreams of backpacking in Europe -- and maybe even grad school -- quashed by his family's financial woes, James (Jesse Eisenberg), a virgin pothead, is forced to work at the Adventureland amusement park during the summer of 1987. At first, the job is mind-numbing, the bosses (Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader) inane, and the customers oddly aggressive. But soon the place starts to live up to its name. Broody co-worker Em (Kristen Stewart) catches James' eye, and Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva), the sexiest employee at the park, starts eyeing him. But Em may be preoccupied with someone else, and the life questions that James has been avoiding -- Is his father drinking? Where can he go now that he's done with college? -- are nipping at his heels.

Is it any good?

At first, ADVENTURELAND seems cut from the same cloth as director Greg Mottola's Superbad: crude, irreverent, raunchy, nerd-celebratory, and driven by male hormones. And it is all that, to a certain degree. But where Superbad had a heart hidden at its core, Adventureland wears its heart on its sleeve. For all its hipster cred (the Lou Reed- and David Bowie-peppered retro/alt rock soundtrack clues viewers in fairly quickly), Adventureland is primarily a romance. Circumstances are complex, families don't always have the answer, the best friendships can sting, and love strangely trumps most.

James, played skillfully by Eisenberg, is a lot like Say Anything's Lloyd Dobler: sweet, earnest, and not altogether together. He longs to be in love, and though that may rate him a loser in some circles, he's not one here. Unfortunately, Stewart's Em is no Diane Court. Stewart (who filmed this movie pre-Twilight) is adept and believable as her character, but in failing to add layers to her performance, she risks turning Em in to an "edgy, complex girl" stereotype. And why would James be smitten with anything typical? (Plus, their chemistry isn't exactly sizzling.) Ditto Ryan Reynolds as a married maintenance worker who seems to forget that he's supposed to be older -- and act older -- than the college kids he works with every summer. Still, there's plenty in here to enjoy. Though the film won't likely have Say Anything's staying power, it's a decent, entertaining imitator.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages about sex and relationships. How do the characters' attitudes about sex compare to those of other "hard-R" teen comedies? Do they seem realistic to you? Why or why not? 

  • What do you think of James' decision to remain a virgin until he meets the "right" woman? What does "right" mean? Why is he portrayed as being so different from his male peers? 

  • Families can also discuss the characters' drinking and drug use. What are the consequences in real life?

Movie details

For kids who love romances

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate